Secretary of State Colin Powell has recently appointed retired General, Anthony Zinni, as his Wartime Counselor. Zinni, a former Commander of US forces in the Mideast, has been a proponent of Saddam’s containment rather than Saddam’s demise. He has considered terrorism a diplomatic and a law enforcement issue, rather than a military challenge. He has minimized contacts with Israel and Israel’s friends in the US.
Powell is a decorated (Purple Heart) General and a friend of Israel. But, in 1990/1 he lobbied against the (Gulf) war option and for economic and diplomatic sanctions against Saddam, pressured President Bush (#41) for the premature conclusion of the Gulf War, and collaborated in cramping Israel into a sealed room mentality. In 2001 he has opposed a large scale military effort to eradicate the regional infrastructure of state-sponsored Islamic terrorism, preferring to confine the retaliation to Bin Laden and the Taliban. He has leaned on Israel to restrain its response to Palestinian terrorists, which have been Saddam’s most sustained allies, spearheading his 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Powell has disapproved a unilateral US preemption or retaliation, favoring the umbrella of the UN or a multinational force, which tend to produce a lowest-common-strategic-denominator, thus diluting the effectiveness of the counter-terrorist effort.
Secretary Powell holds a key role in the Bush (#43) Administration, but unlike his predecessors, Kissinger, Shultz and Baker, he is not a super-formulator, but rather a super-executor, of policy. Unlike his three predecessors, he cannot claim a special personal chemistry with the President, which is a multiplier of political potency. While Kissinger and Baker served next to low-profiled vice presidents and national security advisors, Powell serves next to the most influential vice president in the history of the United States, Dick Cheney, who is also the Czar of national security policy, Condoleezza Rice, a most influential national security advisor and Donald Rumsfeld, a most assertive and experienced Secretary of Defense and one of the most respected authorities on national security.
Powell is a friend of Israel. But, he has been a loyal supporter of Foggy Bottom’s bureaucracy and its world view: diplomatic accommodation rather than military confrontation with rogue regimes and terrorist organizations; opposition to a massive financing of ballistic missile defense; softening of policy toward Iraq, Iran, N. Korea and China; and a total support of the Oslo Process, including the establishment of a PLO state, the re-division of Jerusalem and Israel’s withdrawal to 1967 Lines. Powell has already adopted the traditionally flawed and morally-wrong terminology of the Department of State, such as “Cycle of Violence” (Moral Equivalence between Israel and the PLO), “Even-Handedness,” (between a US ally which combats terrorism and Saddam’s ally which nurtures terrorism) “No military solution to terrorism” (unless it is an anti-US terrorism!), “Don’t upset the Arabs,” “Israeli concessions are required for Coalition Building,” etc.
Powell is a friend of Israel. But, he appointed to the position of Assistant Secretary for Policy Planning Richard Haas, who inflamed the confrontation between Bush (#41) and Shamir, engineered their feud over the loan guarantees and advocated an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 Lines, the repartitioning of Jerusalem and the establishment of a PLO state. He has opposed the war on Saddam and Congressional support of the Iraqi opposition. Powell appointed William Burns – who has been know for his close ties with radical elements in Jordan – to the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. Dan Kurtzer, a devoted friend of Israel, an observant Jew, and an ardent supporter of Peace Now ideology, was appointed by Powell to the post of the US ambassador to Israel. Powell also opposed the appointment of Rumsfeld – a traditional hawk on national security in general and Israel’s security in particular – to the position of Secretary of Defense.
Secretary Powell is a friend of Israel. He is eloquent and speaks some Yiddish. But, one should examine his world view and his relative weight in the Bush Administration, in order to avoid euphoria or depression in reaction to Powell’s pronouncements or actions.